Paper: Lee rebuffed DPRK offer to meet

Updated: 2008-03-06 09:46

New President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Lee Myung-bak, who has pledged a tougher policy in dealing with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), rebuffed his neighbor's offer to meet in January, a news report said Wednesday.

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The proposal was made through the ROK's National Intelligence Service (NIS) "for responsible officials from the two sides to meet", the conservative Dong-a Ilbo newspaper quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

"But President Lee demanded clarification on the purpose of such a meeting, and the DPRK subsequently suspended attempts to make contact," the official said.

Spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the president felt: "it was not appropriate to meet without principle or with no results expected."

The NIS said it knew nothing of the report and declined further comment.

Lee said repeatedly during his campaign for December's presidential election, which he won easily, that he would be harder on the DPRK than his predecessors if it continued to resist international pressure to dismantle its nuclear threat, but reward it handsomely if it complied.

The DPRK has not commented on Lee since his election.

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